A revolving cast of contributors from the Music 101 and Wireless teams showcase some of the best new music releases from the past week.
Chelsea Jade – ‘Low Brow’
Chelsea Jade’s new track is called ‘Low Brow’, and it’s anything but. Elegantly draping a perfect vocal layer over a pulsing rhythm, ‘Low Brow’ is full of emotion. Chelsea’s heartfelt vocals are captivating and expertly expressed, while the music ruggedly swells like waves across the track, rising with her voice to passionate crescendos. Despite the sorrowful lyrical tone, the track sounds optimistic and musically fresh. It has excellent pop pacing, but with enough variation and quirks to remain constantly interesting. – Elizabeth Beattie
Wavves x Cloud Nothings – No Life For Me
No Life For Me is the collaborative effort of Wavve’s Nathan Williams and Cloud Nothing’s Dylan Baldi, recorded at Williams’ home in Los Angeles. Produced by Nathan and his brother Joel it also features contributions from Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij and Williams’s Wavves bandmates Stephen Pope and Brian Hill.
This home recorded low-fi album features all the traits that Wavves and Cloud Nothings are collectively appreciated for; infectious bass lines, washed out vocals, punchy drums and plenty of reverb. Charming throughout, this collaboration feels like an extended jam with friends - and essentially this was what it was. Baldi flew out to LA to hang out with Williams at this home after talking about recording something together for a while.
Released on Bandcamp and on very limited amounts of vinyl, this is a great twist on the idea of split EP and well worth looking into, especially if you’re a fan of either. – Joshua Thomas
The Hussy – ‘Turning On You’
The Hussy are really great - their vocalist sounds like a choir of despondent bus-goers waiting in the rain and wondering if they should pop over to the dairy for a one dollar mix. The usual comparisons to Kathleen-of-Riot-Grrrl can be made and aptly, because they're both great singers, but the point is that this is guitar-rock at its finest – never too long and refined down to the Most Important Thing: the heart of a riff. So many bands try to do this and fail because their ambitions are set higher (solo Jack White, et al). The Hussy know that rock and roll is an absurd act in itself and work from there out. They make it sound like there is no other way. – Eden Bradfield
Abra – Rose
Awful Records is home to some of the most sinister hip hop released this year with artists like Slug Christ and Archibald Slim providing a soundtrack to what seems like an endless night. Abra cloaks her music in a black satin finish that fits the aesthetic of the label. The production is sparse and takes its cue from Juan Maclean and other Detroit techno producers. There’s a touch of Inner City particularly the 1989 cuts from Paradise, but with an edge that comes from an artist plugged into the zeitgeist of 2015. Rose doesn’t break any ground lyrically, but that doesn’t detract from Abra’s ability to draw you in like a siren. – Luke Jacobs
Jupiter Project Presents Get It Boyz
Jupiter Project are Gavin Correia and Marty Rich, two Kiwi boys who have just released the Get It Boyz EP, a collaborative project they made with their friends also involved in the New Zealand rap music scene, including Times x Two, Lil Trigarow and M.E.Z. These are names that stand alone in New Zealand rap, but there seems to be an attraction to working in numbers these days. In an effort to clarify what they’re doing, the duo posted that they wanted to present the scene that’s flourishing in New Zealand. “Last year we came back home to NZ and couldn’t believe how big the parties were and how strong the energy around the scene was! … What we aimed to do was to give this movement a voice in the mainstream and showcase a real underground scene.”
In terms of New Zealand rap, a collective EP like this is a way to hone in on not just the current sound local artists are pursuing, but also a way to breed the next generation of ravers and ragers at festivals and clubs — which let’s face it, needs revamping. So get it, boys. – Aleyna Martinez
DJ Cassidy feat. Chromeo – ‘Future Is Mine’
You'd be forgiven for not having heard of DJ Cassidy, though he's something of a DJ to the stars. Both a musician and producer, he's most notably played at President Obama's inauguration and 50th birthday party as well as Jay Z and Beyoncé’s wedding - no biggie.
Teaming up with electro-funk duo Chromeo, the New York native has dropped his latest track, ‘Future is Mine’ in preparation for the release of his still-unconfirmed debut album, rumoured to feature Robin Thicke, Passion Pit and Usher. ‘Future is Mine’ bodes well for the album - it's a bright, perky disco-pop track, with falsetto hooks and a big dance beat. If you hadn't heard of DJ Cassidy, listen up - it certainly won't be the last time. – Hannah Martin
The Arcs – ‘Outta My Mind’
Part of the charm of The Black Keys was the way they turned unattractive white-boy blues into lush garage anthems. But even when The Black Keys were dominating festivals around the world, it was still obvious that there was only so much they could do. No, they haven’t broken up, but last time Dan Auerbach went solo it nearly split the band, the drama forming the basis of their break-through album Brothers. Since then, Dan has done his own thing a few times, most notably producing records for Dr. John and Lana Del Rey.
‘Outta My Mind’ has the scent of solo-Dan material. It’s earnest but has these film-noir-type riffs that invoke these mysterious undertones. Here, they work better than they do on any of his other tracks.
Freedom is another asset to this song. Rather than his slow croon, there is a jumpy/whisper switch that works throughout the track. The biggest contributor to this is the drumming – it’s fast, bouncy and significantly more rhythmic than Patrick Carney’s efforts. The production is fantastic too, it’s very clear and doesn’t discriminate between instruments. An argument as good as any that The Black Keys should ditch Dangermouse.
For all The Black Key’s faults, their melancholic assets are still valuable. So much so, that the best parts of ‘Outta My Mind’ refer specifically to them. Last year’s Turn Blue was a sad documentation of divorce, the themes seem to be similar on this track too. It’s there in lyrics - ‘the ones I loved have left my side’ and in the hurt in his voice. Misery allows for Auerbach to retain his best skills, but can never limit his willingness to break the limitations set by his day job. – Alex Lyall
What's your pick? Tell us about it in the comments section.